The most important bus etiquette rules. How to behave on a bus. Avoid any embarrassments. Be a pleasant passenger.


What bus etiquette is

Bus etiquette is the set of rules to properly ride on a bus. It includes how to board, sit, and the appropriate behaviors.

General bus etiquette principles

Bus etiquette is based on two major underlying principles. 

  • Facilitate transit.
  • Avoid behavior that can disrespect others.

Most bus etiquette rules apply to any trip. However, circumstances may vary. Apply extra kindness on trips that can cause additional stress. 

  • Long-distance trips. 
  • Rush hour or fully booked rides.
  • Summertime and warm days
Bus etiquette.

How to board, seat, and leave a bus. Etiquette principles to interact with other passengers on a bus.

Bus etiquette rules

1) Etiquette to board a bus 

Before boarding, you should wait for passengers to leave the bus. Do not line up in front of the door. Otherwise, you risk blocking passengers that are leaving the bus. Instead, wait on the side of the door.

Some buses have exit-only doors. Do not line up in front of them or board the bus from such doors.

Respect the line. Do not try to get ahead of other passengers. 

Be patient with other passengers. Do not pressure them and do not push. 

Long-distance buses often have assigned seats. If someone has taken your seat, check your seat number again. If your seat number is correct, politely ask the person to vacate the seat. 

It is not polite to ask another passenger to switch seats. If someone asks you to switch seats, you should accept if switching seats is not inconvenient. Otherwise, answer that you are sorry, but you prefer to keep your seat. 

2) How to manage your belongings on a bus

In general, you should limit the space you occupy. 

Take your backpack off your shoulders. Put your purse in front of you.

If there is an overhead bin, use it to store any bags or luggage. Otherwise, try placing any bags or luggage between your legs. 

Never place your belongings in front of a door. Also, it is not polite to occupy another seat with your belongings. 

3) Bus seating etiquette

Respect the personal space of the other passengers.

Keep your legs under control. Your legs should not occupy a space wider than your seat. Do not spread them. If you stretch them, make sure that you do not occupy other passengers’ personal space or the way out.

Never put your feet on a seat. 

Leave your seat to anyone who might need it more than you do. Pregnant women. Children. Elderly citizens. Persons with mobility issues. 

If you stand, hold on to handles or poles. 

4) How to dress on a bus 

Dress normally on bus rides that last up to 5 or 6 hours. On longer trips, it is ok to wear more comfortable clothes, such as sweatpants.

Similarly, do not take your shoes off. On longer trips, it is acceptable to remove them. Make sure your socks and foot hygiene are impeccable. 

Do not walk the bus without shoes.

5) Respect others & their personal space

Do not occupy another passenger’s personal space. Keep your arms, legs, and belongings in the space delimited by your seat. 

Walk on the bus carefully. Do not run. Walk at a slow but steady pace. Hold on to handles or poles as you move.

In some buses, it is possible to open the windows. Before opening a window, ask other passengers near you if they are ok with it.

Avoid bringing smelly food or drinks on board. In any case, no alcoholic drinks. If you spill food or a drink, clean after yourself.

Limit noise. Listen to music or watch videos strictly with your headphones on. 

Be mindful of the content you watch. Do not watch videos that may disturb other passengers.

Smoking or vaping is usually forbidden. 

Do not escalate conflicts. If a conflict with another passenger arises, stop. Change seats if possible.

Unless necessary, do not talk to the drivers. You risk distracting them, increasing the risk of an accident.

6) Bus etiquette for kids

Make sure that your kids follow bus etiquette. It is never too early to educate our kids to respect others.

Keep your kids under control. Do not let your kids roam the bus unattended. If you stand, keep them in front of you. Make sure they grab a handle.

Avoid toys or devices that are noisy or that can annoy other passengers.

7) Bus etiquette for pets

Check your bus operator’s rules about pets. Some bus companies have strict policies, others don’t. Follow their guidelines.

8) Etiquette to leave a bus

When the bus is approaching your stop, start approaching the door. Do not leave any item or trash behind.

Let other passengers before you leave their seats. If someone is struggling with their luggage, offer to help. 

Try not to stop in the walkway. Otherwise, you risk blocking the other passengers. 

bus etiquette mistakes

Bus etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst bus etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Not respecting personal space.
  • 8/10. Pushing or pressuring others.
  • 5/10. Occupying another seat with your belongings.
  • 5/10. Obstructing transit with your belongings.
  • 4/10. Eating or drinking on a bus.